Saturday, May 12, 2012

Parenting Thoughts on Crying Kids

I remember when I was pregnant talking to everyone I loved and trusted about good ways to parent. Whats so funny is that now I have a few people very close to me going through first time parenting, and I am becoming someone to talk too.

I talk a lot of parenting with my friends- parents, other parents... I like to hear everyone's tactics, different ideas etc. I think its an excellent idea to read and talk about it a lot. I mean, you don't have to USE everything. But you may find something useful that wouldn't have popped into your own head.

One of the most interesting conversations I have had of late was with a girlfriend from my ward on a long drive and she was saying how blessed she is to have a daughter who rarely fusses because when she does cry, my friend flips. Cant handle it.

It led into another interesting discussion at a Relief Society gathering where all the women were talking about getting their kid to sleep through the night and how hard it is to just- let them cry.

At the end of which I had to laugh and say, "You are all such better mothers than I am. It doesn't phase me an INCH when Logan cries."

I realize now that this statement needs a little amending :)

After the first... four months, Logan had gotten old enough, and I had been with him long enough to differentiate between his cries.

Scared cries or hurt cries still wring my heart. Logan woke up the other night frantic after a bad dream and I didn't hesitate a SECOND over running into his room, picking him up and cuddling him. (Great thing about Logan is, is that by the time I had sat down in the rocking chair he was almost asleep again.)

When Logan gets shots I stay in the doctors office for fifteen minutes calmly, and happily, calming him and loving on him. Because at that time he NEEDS it. And I LOVE to give it. (By the way, I must add, when my son gets shots he gets SO mad that I LAUGH. So funny. So there is a horrible mother for you :)

But the- I'm tired, I'm mad, I want what I cant have, I'm simply a butt face cries? Please. They don't work on this hardened mother.

I don't mean they don't irritate me. Because they do a great deal. Lately we have been having some construction around our apartment so Logan hasn't been sleeping. Which means he whines ALL DAY LONG. By noon I am no longer, gentle understanding mom. Because by that time loving, and understanding are going to do nothing to help. Ladies, new mothers, sometimes kids JUST CRY. And when that happens, I am the mom that says, "Fine just cry."

And then I put him in a spot where I know he is safe and cant get hurt (or at his age its more like, I put him here he cant hurt anything) I lock the doors so I know no one can steal him, then I hop into the shower where I cant hear him cry and I block him out for a half hour. I have actually been known to put up a baby gate and sit sewing in the kitchen while Logan sits on the other side of the gate and cries because he is just plain mad.

Honestly, I get plain mad sometimes. And someone cuddling me is not going to help. (And I KNOW it doesn't help Logan because I have tried that tactic and ended getting my face scratched which landed Logan in time out and me FUMING.) And secretly I kind of wish that at 26 I could freak out like Logan does. It would do me some good.

Sometimes EVERYONE just needs to freak out.

Honestly, I think THAT is the key to any success i have had as a parent. I read somewhere when I was pregnant that there will be days when your kid will cry and NOTHING you do will solve it. Even if there is a reason for their tears like sleepiness, or teething. You as a parent are human, and sometimes when they cry long enough and when you cant fix it, it will work on you. It will wear on you. It will drive you bonkers.

Now here is the key. When this moment happens- and we all know what that moment is like- step away. Give your kid to a spouse or family member, be responsible make sure they are clean, fed, and safe- then find your space. Separate yourself. Take a shower, work out, run to the grocery store for a coke. Whatever your fix is. Do it.

Because if you don't do it, THAT is when bad parenting comes in. That is when tempers break and people yell, hit, do things they regret. When you step out you take responsibility for you and your kid.

Now I am not saying of you don't step out you will become abusive. I am just saying you are not a BAD person for needing that. You cant take care of someone else if you are falling apart yourself. You are a mom, but you are still you. And if you give yourself time to be you, you are better for your kids.

Haven't you ever had that moment? I have it every night. I put my son to bed and feel relief over some alone time. By an hour later I am amazed at how restored I feel and when I look up from my book or writing or whatever, I actually MISS my son. I truly think that stepping out, being me, BUILDS my patience and makes me better able to handle the melt downs when they come on. If I sat in the middle of a Logan tantrum each time I would be able to sit there for a shorter and shorter amount of time. Now that I separate myself, I can stay as long as needed, when it really is needed.

I really think that is why the first few months of being a mom come back to me a joy instead of a pain.

My morning schedule when Logan was a newborn, and this happened like clock work:

Wake up with baby- feed him. Snuggle for a minute.

Change him, make him safe and comfy in his swing. Turn on music to entertain him.

Then go downstairs for an hour and work out. Do NOT take monitor.

Even at a month Logan would often cry when I left the room. But you know what? Twenty minutes of crying later and he would either start cooing at his mobile or fall asleep. I stopped taking the monitor downstairs with me because hearing him cry when I left didn't make me sad, but made me feel stressed and rushed. I knew that if something really bad DID happen (like an earthquake hit the upstairs and not the downstairs and knocked his super safe swing over) that Logan would cry loud enough and I would hear it.

I needed my hour. I needed to work out. I needed to shower. (I never got ready mind you- I just washed myself) And I needed to eat breakfast. And when I was done with all this- somehow that hour or two was enough to charge me for an entire day of doing nothing but feeding and cuddling and loving through tears. And after my hour the tears, no matter how bad they got, never bothered me.

I don't know if that is a blessing or a curse but I am the mother that doesn't have an issue when her kid cries. Adam and I had NO problems getting Logan to sleep through the night, because I had no problem falling asleep when he was crying. Seriously. I just repeat the questions in my head.

Is he clean? (Something I go into his room to make sure.)

Is he fed? (I think back to the last meal and how much he ate.)

Is he safe? (meaning, did he just fall off the back of the couch and feels sad because hes hurt?)

I also now add- is he teething? Could he use some Tylenol?

If he is clean, fed, safe, warm, medicated, and if a hug and five minutes of love don't cure him- a half hour of rocking love isn't going to make it any better either. Even if it soothes one instance it is going to only become a habit which will eventually turn me into Mommy Hulk.

This isn't a lecture- this isn't even advice. This is just how I am with Logan and since I think it is interesting to hear how other people are with their kids, because every kid and parent and situation truly ARE different, I am sharing my thoughts.

In my mind, sometimes the kids just need to cry. And when that happens you just need something to turn to that lets them do that without hurting yourself.

And just like at Relief Society when I am saying this now it makes me feel bad as a mom to think of all those tender hearted women who just cant stand to do that. I wonder where I have gone wrong to loose my motherly heart. Will my kids hate me for it someday? Would they be better off with an hour of coddling?

I don't think so. And I think that is where the blessings of the gospel come in. Because the Lord says he will never give us a challenge that we cant overcome. So when coddling is not in my nature, I don't think the Lord would ever give me a child that would need that. Because the Lord knows who I am, what I need, who my kid is, what my kid needs, and what the both of us can and cant do.

Can I end all this by saying yes its true, I'm not lying I really DO let my kid sit five feet from me and ball his eyes out for over forty minutes while I calmly make a skirt. And will you also believe me when I say that even with the previous statement, I love my son more than anything? I love being a mom more than anything. It truly is the greatest part of my life. And I know that even in the middle of a tantrum if I can close my ears long enough to think it- I would STILL say being a mom is the greatest thing ever.

1 comment:

  1. oh sarah---i'm so glad i'm not the only one!

    i was talking to silas a few days ago about how i think there's something wrong with me, because i don't go to pieces when my kids cry. (especially now that they're older--mostly it's just annoying. now if they start whining/screaming about something i calmly pick them up, put them in their room, and tell them they can come out when they're happy and smiling. haha)

    i admire the mothers who never let their kids cry, who sleep with them every night and take showers together, but--that's just not me. that wouldn't be good for me. i need space, i need alone time. and i make sure i get it, every day. if i didn't, i would have no patience and i would start to feel bitter and resentful.

    i don't think my way is necessarily "The Right Way", but it works for us. that's actually the biggest piece of advice i wish i could give new moms--it's okay to let your baby cry sometimes! (of course, as long as they're not hungry or hurt or need a diaper change--i'm not saying ignore their needs. but don't ignore YOUR needs either.)

    and i would also add, because this is a phenomenon that skipped me but seems to afflict others--it's okay to put your baby down! you don't have to hold him/her all the time. (unless you want to. totally cool.)

    thanks for making me feel like i'm not a heartless person. :) and i'm so glad you guys have adjusted so well--it looks like you're doing a fantastic job.